Zuma mum on making arms report public
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma steered clear of saying on Thursday whether he would make public the commission of inquiry into the arms deal's final report.
Zuma, answering a question in the National Assembly, by DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, on whether he would release the full report, compared the finalisation of the future document to going to the doctor.
"The report is not yet done," he said.
"To begin to debate that issue now... Really I don't see any logic to say if this happened what then will you do.
"It is just like going to the doctor. If the doctor diagnoses you, you don't even know what the diagnosis will be."
Zuma was applauded from the majority party's side of the house after giving the answer.
He chuckled before taking more questions.
"People were saying investigate this arms deal," he said.
Wait for the report
"There was big hullabaloo about it. Lots of speeches. We then took a decision to set up the commission of inquiry. It is just about to start.
"If honourable members could wait until the report is made and there are key recommendations made by the commission, then you ask at that point, what are you going to do with this report? I think the question will be very legitimate."
Zuma said the commission would have "information before it" and would be able to ask questions of anyone involved in the deal.
"It could be Terror Lekota who was then the minister of the defence and now the leader of Cope, or it could be Jacob Zuma, then the deputy president and now the president.
"The fact of the matter is that this is a commission of this country that must get [to] the truth."
Learn from the arms deal
Zuma said he would be guided by the recommendations of the commission's report, including whether it should be made public or not. To do otherwise would unfairly prescribe to the commission the manner in which its recommendations should be framed, he said.
"I think the arms deal in this country has been an experience we must all learn from," Zuma said.
"Certainly if we were to undertake such a task we would look at what happened in our experience, and certainly we would take steps and eliminate some of the things that caused problems."
The department of defence's strategic defence acquisition, estimated at R40bn, was finalised by the government in 1999.
The deal, intended to modernise South Africa's defence force, included the purchase of corvettes, submarines, helicopters and fighter trainers. Investigators suspect that hundreds of millions of rands worth of bribes were paid to facilitate the deal.
Zuma announced the establishment of the commission in September last year.